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The long life of Ted Ryder, diabetic

It's been the elusive cure, one that scientists have felt they've been on the brink of breaking for the past 80 years. But for years, diabetes has remained a treatable but not yet cured disease. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of death by disease in Canada. Banting and Best are Canada's best known connection to diabetes but the Canadian connection continues. Since the historic discovery of insulin, there have been improvements and refinements. The promise of a cure for all, however, remains as yet unfulfilled, leaving many to live highly regimented and uncertain lives.

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On July 10, 1922, five-year-old Teddy Ryder was among the first diabetics to receive insulin. He immediately began to add weight to his ravaged and tired little body. Ryder and Dr. Banting formed an immediate bond, one that would last his lifetime through an exchange of visits and letters. In 1990 Ryder returns to Toronto as one of the longest-living users of insulin. In this CBC Television report, he attends an exhibit on Dr. Charles Best and describes his long and full life.
. Ted Ryder was born in Keyport, N. J. in 1917. He was initially refused as a test subject because of the low supply of insulin available. But Ryder's uncle was persistent and visited Dr. Banting in person and described his ailing five-year-old nephew who weighed 26 pounds.

. Dr. Banting and Ted Ryder formed an immediate bond and exchanged a series of letters over the course of their lives. A recovered Ryder wrote to Banting in 1922: "I wish you would come to see me. I am a fat boy now and I feel fine. I can climb a tree."

. On Dec. 27, 1938 Dr. Banting wrote the following poignant letter to Ryder: "I shall always follow your career with interest and, you will forgive me if I add, a little pride, because I shall always remember the difficult times we had in the early days of insulin. The outstanding thing I remember was your strength and fortitude in observing your diet and the manly way in which you stood up to the punishment of hypodermic injections. I am sure that you will be a success in life if you maintain the same spirit in meeting the rebuffs of the world."

. Ted Ryder lived a full life, working as a librarian in Hartford, Conn. He died in 1993 at the age of 76. In his will, he left a bequest to the University of Toronto's Faculty of Medicine to recognize how the gift of insulin profoundly extended and impacted his life.
Medium: Television
Program: Saturday Report
Broadcast Date: Oct. 13, 1990
Guest(s): Henry Best, Ted Ryder
Host: Knowlton Nash
Reporter: Brenda Craig
Duration: 2:37

Last updated: February 14, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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